Mercy Ships

Action Products is a proud supporter of Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.5 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.



Inspirations at Sea


These past two days have been inspiring, overwhelming, and emotionally charged. I have had the privilege to: observe a cleft palate repair, observe a tenotomy, visit a hospital renovation project, walk morning rounds with Dr. Gary Parker and attend a Dress Ceremony for 14 courageous  women recovered from fistula surgery who, tomorrow, are about to embark on a new life as they return home to their villages. And while all these events were remarkable, nothing has prepared me for the people I've met along the way.

From the moment I stepped aboard, every person has been so warm, gracious and candid about their experience and dedication to the mission of Mercy Ships. The number of people who have been here many times over, and who have come once and never left is much greater than I would have ever imagined. Also, there is the full range of ages aboard the ship in a wide variety of positions: housekeeping, nursing, communications, HR, surgeon, dentist, biomed tech, or teacher. There are singles, dating couples, married couples, families and many children from babies to teens about to graduate from high school.

I've witnessed the genuine camaraderie between all the crew members. This is evidenced every day when people greet each other passing in the corridors, during the crew meals, jogging together off the ship, sharing coffee in the Starbucks-sponsored café and playing folk music together in the "town square". This is made particularly remarkable, at least to me, by the fact that the crew is ever-changing. For 450 crew positions, the Africa Mercy welcomes 1200 volunteers aboard each year to keep those positions filled. Some people come two weeks every year, three months once in a lifetime or others offer service three years or more running. There is room for every timeframe, and for a range of skill sets far beyond medical.

I now know why people leave a Mercy Ships trip a different person; it simply cannot be helped. The exposure to the compassionate care, the service to others, and the singularity of purpose binds people in a unique and very rare way that is to be revered and modeled.

To enjoy the visual journey, follow me on Instagram @ActionwithMercy.

Madagascar Vision Trip Begins


Well, I finally arrived to the beautiful country of Madagascar. I am traveling with, Russ Holmes from the Mercy Ships and he has been quite the host. After lunch we took a tour of the Africa Mercy. She stands 8 floors high and we walked the entire ship. Amazing. They even have a Starbucks Coffee onboard. This came in handy, since it took two days to actually arrive at our destination. Later we visited patients on Deck 7 and in the Screening and Rehab Tents. There were many children getting orthopedic surgeries in order to walk correctly. This is something that we take for granted in the US, as we can correct many things at birth, with the proper care. I enjoyed talking to the volunteers on the ship who dedicate long periods of time to helping these individuals. They are truly inspiring.

To enjoy the visual journey, follow me on Instagram @ActionwithMercy.

The Backstory


How did I come to be sitting here in this hotel lounge of Paris CDG Terminal 2, awaiting the 4 o’clock flight to Madagascar, you ask? Well, let me tell you how it happened.

Two years ago, Janet Kaplan, Action’s Marketing Director, had the great wisdom to reach out to Mercy Ships, inquiring how Action might become involved with their mission. Her efforts culminated in a product donation from Action to Mercy Ships (positioning products for use in their surgical suites) and an AORN (Assoc. of Operating Room Nurses) Expo collaboration to raise awareness and dollars for Mercy Ships (also a charitable partner to AORN).

It was the product donation that sealed this deal as it brought Bobby Baker and Russ Holmes to Action’s headquarters in Hagerstown, MD. Taking the time out of their hectic fund-raising schedules, these gentlemen took time to visit our 90 employees so they could very simply, say Thank You. Not only that, they educated our employees on how their day-to-day production efforts help support life-altering surgeries half way around the world; for the planet’s most impoverished communities. In other words, Russ and Bobby made poignantly real, the true value of everyone’s labor. What work might have once been rote or mundane, had new meaning. I saw rugged men I’d known for twenty years with tears in their eyes as they watched the video of Mercy Ships patients, and listened to their stories of healing and recovery. We were all emotionally touched that day, and are still. In today’s world, there are not many people (sigh) who would be willing to go that extra mile simply to say Thanks. It spoke to the integrity not only of Russ and Bobby, but of the entire organization.

So, when asked if I would consider traveling to the ship, I jumped at the chance. Russ and Bobby have said to me many times that they were more transformed by their experiences serving others aboard the ship, than patients were transformed by their service. I believe it, and can’t wait to see the magic in action.

 A special thanks to my amazing and encouraging family and colleagues for supporting this adventure!

To enjoy the visual journey, follow me on Instagram @ActionwithMercy.



Mistie leaves for Mercy Ships


Africa Mercy

When was the last time you had an opportunity to witness people working together to restore dignity, health,
mobility, sight, and social acceptance to one person, let alone hundreds of the world’s most impoverished
people? If this sounds refreshing and uplifting, please join me as I embark on a most unique journey aboard
the Africa Mercy in Madagascar.

Beginning October 31, Mercy Ships opens its doors to a few fortunate visitors invited to learn more about how
they transform lives every single day. Come with us as we see the HOPE clinic, witness the celebratory Dress
Ceremony and visit the field clinics and construction projects. Also meet the people who have traveled from all
corners of the world to donate their time and talents to healing others. From all I’ve heard, the impact on the lives of
those who receive treatment is not claimed to be as great as the impact the patients have on the lives of the volunteers.

I cannot wait. My sincere thanks extend to Bobby Baker and Russ Holmes of Mercy Ships for including our humble
company in the Vision Trip mix. We are all looking forward to this opportunity and inviting anyone who is interested
to come along for the ride…